Practice Report | Oct. 17, 2013

Practice Report | Oct. 17, 2013

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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If there’s a barometer of how the Wolves’ first unit is playing with one another, perhaps it’s this: When they’re playing well and meshing together, the group starts chirping.

“We have a bunch of guys that talk a lot of trash,” forward Kevin Love said. “So it makes practice really fun, and there’s never a dull moment. That helps us. It helps both units really stay together and want to fight every day.”

If talk about this week’s scrimmages performances is any indication, the first unit might be talking enough smack to make up for the past couple weeks. That’s because early on in Training Camp and in the first week there was a fair amount of chatter about the second and third units pushing tempo and winning head-to-head matchups with the starters. That seems to be changing. Over the past three days of practice, with Kevin Martin back in the fold alongside the regular projected starters, the tone surrounding practice has been better energy and productivity out of the first group.

After Saturday’s loss to Toronto, coach Rick Adelman and the players alike talked at length about needing to pick up the tempo and learn to build chemistry together.

The schedule presented an opportune time to work on those things. With seven days off in between games, this week turned into a second Training Camp that helped the Timberwolves not only get on the same page but get a little payback in those first team vs. second team scrimmages.

“Our first game we were incredibly rusty—our first few games,” Love said. “We really have to pick it up…We know how good we can be offensively. Defensively is a work in progress. But we’ve become a lot better this week. We just have to know it’s not going to come easy for us. We just have to have the pedal to the metal, foot on the gas from the start.”

Center Nikola Pekovic said after Thursday’s practice the past week has been beneficial for this group. Now it’s about applying that and bringing energy when the team plays this weekend in Montreal and finishes up the preseason with back-to-back games in Philadelphia and Detroit next Wednesday and Thursday.

Practice Report: Kevin Love

“We had these three days of really good workouts—really, really good practices,” Pekovic said. “We want to try to use them in games and try to prepare ourselves as much as we can for the regular season.”

Love said it’s important to have a balance in these last few games of getting the team’s rotations in order while also being cautious about not putting too much preseason wear-and-tear on players’ bodies.

“All that really is up to coach, so we’ll see,” Love said. “If he needs us out there, we’ll be ready. But you always want to have guys healthy. You don’t want to have setbacks for the regular season.”

Price Showing Leadership

Throughout Training Camp and early preseason games, one would think guard A.J. Price had been on the team for at least one full season the way he communicates with his teammates.

Price had tried to build team camaraderie with the second-unit throughout the last month and his coach has caught on.

“He’s a good player,” Adelman said. “He’s a solid player. He had done that. He’s tried to keep that group together, the young group when they play out there and keep them competitive. He’s been in the league and he knows how to play. He’s a very good player.”

The former Connecticut star has shown signs of leadership and skill, but that doesn’t guarantee him a spot on the roster. Still, though, that unit consists of guys like Othyus Jeffers, Lorenzo Brown and Robbie Hummel. It’s an odd dynamic when a player is leading a group of players he’s in competition with.

“Well, the one good thing about those guys is that they really play hard,” Adelman said. “They really compete.”

Quick Hits

  • It was a fashion day at practice today. Or something like that… Jeffers was rocking some zip-up Jordan’s that went up about two inches higher than his ankles. We aren’t sure if that was for ankle support or the brisk Minnesota weather. We’ll have a shoe update tomorrow.
    More fashion: Center Ronny Turiaf had his sweatpants tucked into his socks once again. We’ve chronicled about this for quite some time on Twitter, so this isn’t anything new. Today, though, we were able to ask Ronny about why he does this.

    “It’s all about the swag,” Turiaf said.

  • Wolves guard Ricky Rubio was hitting his shots again after practice on Thursday. He’s looked very good when doing his post-practice shooting routines, and now it’s a matter of getting that to translate into games. Love said Rubio is showing confidence in his shot during practice, but as Rubio said earlier this year: It’s about making the shots fall on game night. “He’s really knocking down that 15-17 foot shot, and he’s not afraid to shot it,” Love said. “He continues to work on it every day”

  • Love said although the team is headed to Quebec this weekend, he is not up on his French. Ronny Turiaf is fluent and Gorgui Dieng also speaks some French, but Love isn’t optimistic he’ll pick it up. Instead, he might need to stick with English. “We’ve had Ricky (Spanish) for a few years now, and Shved (Russian),” Love said, joking. “And I’m totally lacking.”

  • For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.